Hans Leberecht

Novels and novellas Hans Leberecht

Short stories


Hans Leberecht (1. XII / 18. XI 1910 – 10. XI 1960) was an Estonian author who diligently followed the guidelines of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and socialist realism in his works. Although he wrote in Russian, political forces shaped him into an indicator of the direction of Estonian literature in the Stalin era on the basis of his novel Valgus Koordis (‘Light in Koordi’) and established him as an author.

Hans Leberecht was born in St. Petersburg into an Estonian working-class family. He spent his childhood at his grandmother’s home in the village of Koordi in Järvamaa county. After leaving secondary school Leberecht went to work in an electrical machinery works in Leningrad, where he also took part in literary activities. In 1934 he attended the first Soviet writers’ congress, where the principles of socialist realism were elucidated. His first stories started to appear in journals in the thirties. One of them – Igavene värv (‘Eternal Colour’) – won second prize in an all-Union story competition. In 1935 Leberecht went to study at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute, from which he was expelled a couple of years later because of persecution of his father. Until the war Leberecht worked as a picture restorer. In the Second World War he mainly served in the Estonian Rifle Corps and wrote dispatches from the front for the divisional paper. In 1944 he joined the Communist Party. After the war Leberecht settled in Tallinn, where he wrote sketches as a special correspondent for the newspaper Sovetskaya Estoniya. Following the recognition he received for Valgus Koordis he became a freelance author.

The novel Valgus Koordis, which first appeared in the Leningrad newspaper Zvezda in 1948, is one of the earliest works to deal with the subject of the establishment of the kolkhoz, or collective farm, in the Estonian SSR. The story was also hurriedly translated into Estonian in 1949. The appearance of the novel was accompanied by a scandal: the manuscript was at first ignored in a novel competition, but because it was said to have made an impression on Stalin himself, it was decided to create a new jury to declare it the winner. This was followed by Stalin’s  prize (class III), a rapturous reception, and translation into 23 languages. The story was the basis of the first Estonian colour feature film (1951) and an opera (1955).

Leberecht’s other works, too, are largely based on the conflict between support of Soviet power as new and positive, and opposition to Soviet power as old and negative. In his story Teel (‘On the Road’, 1951), the confrontation develops against the background of swamp drainage, which, as a part of the reshaping of nature, was a favoured aspect of the programme of socialist realism. With the novel Kaptenid (‘The Captains’, 1955, in Estonian 1956) the conflict is set in an industrial environment, at a gas works. A film, Andruse õnn (‘Andrus’ Luck’, 1955) was based on the novel. In the novel Sõdurid lähevad koju (‘The Soldiers Go Home’) Leberecht deals with the confrontation between the new and the old in the context of the Second World War, concentrating on a depiction of the Estonian Rifle Corps. The conflict is developed from the assertion that the war shaped and affirmed Estonians’ revulsion at Fascism and their belief in Communism and Soviet power. In the story Ühes majas (‘In One House’, 1957, in Estonian 1958) two kolkhoz managers confront one another – a positive and reform-minded one and an egotist who is hungry for power. On the basis of the story a film, Ühe katuse all (‘Under One Roof’), was made in 1962. The novel Vassarite palee (‘The Vassars’ Palace’, 1960) tells the story of one Estonian family in St. Petersburg during the First World War and the revolutions that followed it. The largely autobiographical novel is considered artistically the most noteworthy of Leberecht’s works because of its convincing and generalizing depiction of the conditions. The short stories Leberecht wrote in the fifties are compiled in the collection Pronkssõrmus (‘The Bronze Ring’, 1961).

I. S. (Translated by C. M.)

Books in Russian

Novels and novellas
Ганс Леберехт, Свет в Коорди: повесть. Pисунки: В. Кудров. Ленинград: Советский писатель, 1949, 207 pp. [Next eds: Рига: Латгосиздат, 1949, 207 pp; Ленинград: Советский писатель, 1949, 216 pp; Москва: Гослитиздат, 1949, 190 pp; Москва: Гослитиздат, 1950, 68 pp; ‘Повести’ (‘Свет в Коорди’, ‘В дороге’, Москва: Гослитиздат, 1953, 336 pp.]
Ганс Фридрихович Леберехт, В дороге: повесть. Таллин: Эстгосиздат, 1951, 180 pp. [Next eds: Ленинград: Советский писатель, 1951, 168 pp; ‘Повести’ (‘Свет в Коорди’, ‘В дороге’), Москва: Гослитиздат, 1953, 336 pp.]
Ганс Леберехт, Капитаны: роман. Ленинград: Советский писатель, 1955, 228 pp. [Nexts ed: Таллинн: Эстонское государственное издательство, 1956, 228 pp.]
Ганс Леберехт, Солдаты идут домой. Обложка: П. Рээвээр. Ленинград: Советский писатель, 1957, 436 pp. [Next eds: Таллин: Эстгосиздат, 1959, 439 pp; Москва: Гослитиздат, 1960, 422 pp; Таллин: Ээсти раамат, 1969, 440 pp.]
Ганс Леберехт, Дворцы Вассаров. Часть 1-4: роман. Москва: Гослитиздат (Роман-газета), 1961, 125 pp. [Next eds: Ленинград: Советский писатель, 1961, 766 pp; Таллинн: Эстгосиздат, 1964, 756 pp; Москва: Художественная литература, 1965, 632 pp.]
Ганс Леберехт, В одном доме: повесть. Ленинград: Советский писатель, 1958, 290 pp.
Ганс Леберехт, Дворцы Вассаров. Часть 5-6: роман. Москва: Гослитиздат (Роман-газета), 1961, 128 pp. [Next eds: Ленинград: Советский писатель, 1961, 766 pp; Таллинн: Эстгосиздат, 1964, 756 pp; Москва: Художественная литература, 1965, 632 pp.]

Ганс Леберехт, Дворцы Вассаров. Окончание. Москва: Гослитиздат (Роман-газета), 1961, 128 pp. [Next eds: Ленинград: Советский писатель, 1961, 766 pp; Таллинн: Эстгосиздат, 1964, 756 pp; Москва: Художественная литература, 1965, 632 pp.]

Books in Estonian

Novels and novellas
Valgus Koordis. Vene keelest tõlkinud Lembit Remmelgas. Tallinn: Ilukirjandus ja Kunst, 1949, 283 lk. [‘Свет в Коорди’. 2. trükk: 1949; 3. trükk: 1953, 4. trükk: 1963 (Teosed III).]
Teel. Vene keelest tõlkinud Johan Tamm. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1951, 176 lk. [‘В дороге’. 2. trükk: 1954, 3. trükk: 1963 (Teosed I).]
Kaptenid. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1956, 218 lk. Vene keelest tõlkinud Johan Tamm. [‘Капитаны’. 2. trükk: 1964 (Teosed II).]
Sõdurid lähevad koju. Vene keelest tõlkinud Johan Tamm. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus 1957, 424 lk. [‘Солдаты идут домой’. 2. trükk: 1965 (Teosed IV).]
Ühes majas. Vene keelest tõlkinud Johan Tamm. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1958, 282 lk. [‘В одном доме’. 2. trükk: 1959, 3. trükk: 1964 (Teosed II).] 
Vassarite paleed. Vene keelest tõlkinud Asta Blumenfeld, Jüri Piik ja Johan Tamm. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1960, 756 lk. [‘Дворцы Вассаров’. 2. trükk: 1967 (Teosed IV).]
Pronkssõrmus. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1961, 123 lk.

Collected Works
Teosed I: Valgus Koordis. Teel. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1963, 364 lk.
Teosed II: Kaptenid. Ühes majas. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1964, 452 lk.
Teosed III: Sõdurid lähevad koju. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1965, 379 lk.
Teosed IV: Vassarite paleed. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1967, 744 lk.
Teosed V: Jutustused. Publitsistika. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1969, 216 lk.